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Freestyle Skiers Ordered Back on Olympic Team

By Athelia Knight
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 31, 1998; Page C3




An arbitrator ruled yesterday that three freestyle skiers be added to the U.S. Olympic team after the skiers appealed a decision by their sport's governing body that left them off the team.

William H. Erickson, an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association in Denver, ordered the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and the U.S. Olympic Committee to name Stacey Blumer, an aerial skier, and Jim Moran and Evan Dyvbig, both moguls skiers, to the vacant spots on the Olympic team.

This past Monday, the USSA named 11 skiers — six men and five women — to its Olympic team, even though it could have chosen up to 14 skiers. The three skiers filed an appeal with the ABA, which is the procedure for handling grievances under USOC guidelines. None of the three could be reached to comment.

Washington attorney Mark Levinstein, who represents Blumer, said last night that Erickson's ruling supports his position.

"They [USSA] were trying to send the message that the coach would pick who will be on the team," said Levinstein. But, Erickson ruled "the USOC constitution requires a fairer process," said Levinstein.

In his ruling after two days of hearings in Denver, Erickson said that "the manner in which the appointments were made" by the USSA, based on the criteria for selecting the Olympic ski team, "constituted an abuse of discretion and denied the complainants a fair and equitable opportunity to be considered for a place on the 1998 freestyle Olympic team."

According to the selection criteria for the team, a skier had to win a Gold Cup event, finish in the top three in a World Cup competition, or finish in the top five in two World Cup events or the top 10 in three World Cup events. Skiers could also be named to the team at the coach's discretion.

Bill Marolt, president and CEO of USSA, said, "We feel very strongly, as I know the USOC does, about selecting the athletes who meet high goals in the selection criteria."

But, he said, "We also have a great respect for the process and we will not only support the decision of the judge but do everything we can to help these athletes be successful in Nagano."

Blumer, 28, is ranked 12th in World Cup points and is the defending women's overall World Cup champion in aerials. She finished seventh and ninth in two World Cup events this season.

Dybvig, 22, is ranked 11th in World Cup points in moguls and finished seventh, ninth and 13th in three World Cup events this season. He finished second in a World Cup event yesterday.

Moran, 25, is ranked 15th in World Cup points in moguls and finished fifth and ninth in two World Cup events this season.

Blumer's sister, Cherie D'Amico, said the skiers were elated by the ruling.

"She feels awesome," said D'Amico, who said her sister had called her late yesterday to let her know the outcome. "She cried twice this week; on Monday when they told her she wasn't going and today when they told her she was."

The appeal by the three skiers is not unusual. In 1988, Don Lavigne was named to the U.S. Olympic bobsled team after he was left off the team in favor of NFL star Willie Gault.

"The United States Olympic Committee's constitution features the world's most outstanding options for athletes with grievances," said USOC spokesman Mike Moran from Nagano. "The system has been fully utilized and the results speak for the process."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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